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Berkshires towns reap more than $3 million to fix battered roads

5 towns making noise for state help with Route 57 (copy)

In 2018, this was the condition of Route 57 in Sandisfield, on a section of highway that had not been paved since the 1980s. Five towns banded together to petition the state to overhaul it, and work on 4.7 miles of road was finished in June. This week, the state announced $1 million in money for work on 2 additional miles of Route 57, in New Marlborough.

Driving along East Windsor Road in Peru, your car can feel like each wheel is attached to a pogo stick.

For years, the town has wanted to fix this battered road, a key connector to Windsor and Route 9, but has struggled to come up with enough money through the trickle of road money it gets yearly from the state.

Help arrived Wednesday with a $927,000 grant from a new Massachusetts program to invest in rural and economically distressed communities. Becket, Hancock and New Marlborough also received money from the Community One Stop for Growth program — more than $3 million in all for small Berkshires towns.

Here is how the money will be used:

Becket: McNerney Road repairs ($1 million)

Where: McNerney Road serves as a connector between Route 8 to the south and the town of Washington to the north.

What: Work will include “full-depth reclamation,” widening, and the addition of shoulders for safer bike travel.

Why: The road serves as an alternative route north to Washington and Dalton, as well as Pittsfield. Officials note that it is used by Washington residents and Becket emergency vehicles, as it provides the most direct route to the western portion of Washington. The road is narrow and the pavement is in poor condition, slowing travel and emergency responses.

Hancock: Paving of Dee, Goodrich Hollow and Tower Mountain roads ($169,000)

Where: These three dirt and gravel roads can only be reached from New York state.

What: This relatively smaller grant will only cover paving. Officials say the town will pay to replace culverts and add gravel before paving.

Why: Paving will make the roads safer to travel and ease snow removal. Officials also note that less gravel will flow into streams. The work is expected to make residential development more attractive, helping Hancock increase its tax base.

New Marlborough: Route 57 rehabilitation ($1 million)

Where: Two miles of Route 57, a key east-west route through the town.

What: A “full-depth reclamation” and rebuilding of just under 2 miles of road, along with improved culverts and drainage. It adds to work, finished in June, on a 4.7-mile segment of Route 57 in New Marlborough and Sandisfield.

Why: Because lots of people use it. Route 57 is classified by the state as a “Major Rural Collector roadway.”

Peru: East Windsor Road resurfacing ($927,000)

Where: This road is the primary north-south route between Windsor and Route 143.

What: Three miles of road will be rebuilt, including new culverts.

Why: Broken pavement and bad drainage make travel hazardous during storms, especially in winter. The conditions slow emergency vehicles.

In all, the state this week announced road project awards of $9.8 million. The Community One Stop for Growth program was launched in January to simplify how towns go about applying for help.

Auditor: Poor rural towns in Massachusetts aren’t getting the help they need to keep up with wealthy ones
Here are the Berkshire representatives' funding priorities for state's $3.65 billion spending bill

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com and 413-588-8341.

Investigations editor

Larry Parnass joined The Eagle in 2016 from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he was editor in chief. His freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, CommonWealth Magazine and with the Reuters news service.

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